Tim Ryan, the former Bears defensive tackle and current FOX analyst who was the lone All-Pro voter not to select Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, says he cares more about wins and losses than catches and yards.
Although neither Ryan nor FOX’s PR department responded to requests for comment from PFT, Ryan did tell The Sports Xchange that he chose Bears receiver Brandon Marshall and Bengals receiver A.J. Green over Johnson in large part because Marshall and Green won more games.
“Of course he had a great year and he is a great receiver, but I look at more than statistics and I thought a couple of other receivers had a better season, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green,” Ryan said. “Johnson was targeted a lot and was often the only thing the Lions had going, but he also dropped a lot of passes and they did lose 12 games. I felt Marshall helped Chicago win games and Green helped Cincinnati win games. I think that is more important than statistics.”
But here’s the thing: Football is a team sport. Measuring a wide receiver by how many wins and losses a team has doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, because no wide receiver wins or loses a game by himself.
Yes, the Lions lost more games than the Bears and Bengals, but does anyone seriously believe that’s Johnson’s fault? When Johnson caught 10 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown against the Titans, but the Lions’ defense and special teams fell apart in a 44-41 loss, was that an example of Johnson not doing enough to win? When Johnson caught 12 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings, but the Lions lost 34-24, was that an example of Johnson not doing enough to win? When Johnson caught 13 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown against the Colts, but the Lions’ defense gave up two late touchdown drives in a 35-33 loss, was that an example of Johnson not doing enough to win?
And if we’re counting losses against individual receivers, shouldn’t we count it against Marshall that he caught just two passes for 24 yards in a loss to the Packers, and just two passes for 21 yards in a loss to the 49ers? If the Bears had won either of those games, they would have made the playoffs. Doesn’t Marshall deserve some blame for that? And how about Green catching one pass for eight yards in a loss to the Steelers, and three passes for 44 yards in a loss to the Cowboys? If the Bengals had won either of those games, they would have won their division and opened the playoffs at home instead of on the road. Doesn’t Green deserve some blame for that?
It’s also odd that, if wins and losses are Ryan’s means of measuring receivers, he chose Marshall (whose team didn’t make the playoffs), and Green (whose team made the playoffs as the sixth and final wild card in the AFC). Why not a receiver on a division winner, like Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Houston’s Andre Johnson, Houston, Denver’s Demaryius Thomas or New England’s Wes Welker?
As for Ryan’s claim that Marshall and Green were more deserving because Johnson “dropped a lot of passes,” well, that doesn’t really stand up to much scrutiny. Although dropped passes aren’t an official NFL statistic, Stats Inc. counts them. And Stats Inc. found that Johnson and Marshall dropped the same number of passes last season, while Green dropped just one fewer. So Johnson dropped the same number of passes as Marshall while catching four more passes than Marshall, and Johnson dropped one more pass than Green while catching 25 more passes than Green, and somehow dropped passes are the reason that Marshall and Green were better than Johnson last season?
Johnson led the league in catches and broke the NFL’s single-season receiving yardage record by a big margin, and it’s silly to hold it against him that he did it while playing on a losing team. All-Pro recognition is an individual honor, and no receiver had a better individual season than Megatron.